Kappa Masala - Spiced Tapioca/ Yucca Root

The members of Kerala Kitchen, a facebook group have decided to cook a traditional dish from Kerala every month. I loved the idea as there are a lot of dishes I would love to make and whats better than a group of fellow enthusiasts cooking together. Nags of Edible Garden selected Kappa Masala as the recipe for this month and its one I  enjoy any time of day.

I make kappa atleast a couple of times every month, but its usually just steamed for breakfast or snack times.  And if I do make a fish curry I make sure to make a little puzhukku, my favorite! Though I have eaten this kappa masala a few times, this was the first time I made it myself. I actually made it thrice this month, the first two times it was almost over before I could take pictures, but the third time I was determined! It was delicious and made the perfect tea time snack.

Kappa Masala

500 gms kappa, tapioca, peeled and cut into cubes
1 tbs coconut oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1 sprig curry leaves
2 big cloves of garlic, crushed
3/4 tsp dried red chili flakes or use while chilies to taste and crush with the garlic
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste

Take the kappa in a large pot and add enough water to cover it well and some salt and cook until the kappa is tender but holds its shape. Drain the water well.
Heat the oil in a pan and splutter the mustard seeds. Add the urad dal and fry until browned. Add the curry leaves, garlic, red chili flakes and turmeric and fry for a few seconds, take care not to burn the garlic
Add the boiled kappa and salt of needed and stir until everything is well combined and the kappa is evenly coated with the spice mixture.
Remove from heat and serve hot.

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Here's wishing you all a Very Happy Valentines Day! 
I've been celebrating the whole week, doing all kinds of crafts for Anushka's school. I've cut and glued so many hearts, Valentines Day has never been more real! To me its another day to be around chocolate and if I'm really lucky maybe I'll have something new by the end of the day:)
I'm going to be doing a lot of baking in the coming weeks, so I decide to make this super simple no-bake dessert instead. This recipe was given to us by one of our teachers when we were in the 6th grade and it was probably the first dessert I ever made. The original recipe used a simple buttercream frosting but I like this fudge frosting much better. I used to make it so often back then, my brother and I just loved it. 
You can easily adjust the amounts to make as many cakes as you like or you can pile the biscuits high and make a really tall cake. This is also just the thing to make with your kids. Anushka loved dipping the biscuits and stacking them.

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

1/2 cup milk
2 tsps instant coffee powder
1/2 tbs sugar
12 digestive biscuits

Quick Fudge Frosting:
50gms bittersweet chocolate
1 tbs butter
1/2 tbs golden syrup or light corn syrup

Warm the milk slightly and dissolve the coffee powder and sugar in the milk. Keep the milk aside to cool.
Dip one cookie at a time in the milk and stack them neatly one on top of another to make two cakes of 6 cookies each. 
Place the stacked cookies in the freezer while you make the icing.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler until melted and smooth. Stir in the corn syrup and butter until melted. Keep aside to cool until the frosting is thick enough to frost with.
Remove the biscuit cakes from the freezer and frost both the cakes. Decorate as desired and keep refrigerated.

Chana Dal/ Bengal Gram Masala

I make dal almost everyday and yet its the one thing we never get tired of. This is one of my favorite recipes. I make it using all kinds of lentils but I like the flavor of chana dal best. 
I have been trying to avoid carbs at night and on such days, a bowl of this dal with a salad or roasted vegetables or fish is what I have for dinner. This tastes great paired with rice, roti or any kind of bread and even on its own.
You can find the recipe for the roasted salmon here.

Chana Dal Masala

1 cup chana dal/ benal gram
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
large pinch asafoetida/ hing
2 dry red chilies
1 small onion
1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tomatoes
finely chopped cilantro

Soak the dal overnight. Cook it in sufficient water with some salt and turmeric powder either in a pressure cooker or in an open pan until soft.
Heat oil in a big saucepan and add the mustard and cumin seeds. When they splutter add the asafoetida and the red chilies. Then add the onions and saute until transparent and soft. Then add the gingergarlic paste and fry for a few seconds until the raw smell is gone.
Add the dry spice powders and fry for a few seconds. Add the tomatoes and some salt. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and mashed and cooked. 
Stir in the cooked dal and mix well. Add water if required to adjust the consistency. Bring to a boil and cover and let simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.
Garnish with the chopped cilantro.

Chocolate Panna Cotta

Today is going to be a really exciting day for Anushka. She has a school picnic and will be taking the Bart to a park with all her classmates. I know she is going to be so happy and excited, she just loves the 'choo choo train'. With all this excitement I couldn't sleep and was up so early, its just 7.00 and I'm done with all my work. A good one hour before Anushka wakes up and just enough time to finish this post.

I borrowed this amazing all chocolate book from the library last week and have been drooling at the pictures and reading about chocolate every free minute. Yesterday I got super tempted and got all the ingredients ready for a chocolate mousse. But over whipped cream happened and I had to drop the plan. Then I remembered this recipe that I had bookmarked a couple of days before that called for just the amount of cream I had left.

The panna cotta is super chocolaty and makes an amazing quick dessert. I did follow the recipe exactly as given, and what I loved about it is that it uses whole milk instead of cream or half and half and all the sweetness is from the chocolate, there is no extra sugar being added. The recipe is from here.

Chocolate Panna Cotta

3/4 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise and seeds scraped
1/2 tsp salt (I added only a pinch)
2 tsps powdered unflavored gelatin (I used 1 1/2 tsps)
2 tbs water for the gelatin
4.5 oz dark chocolate (I used semi-sweet)
2.5 tbs cream

Take the water in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin evenly over it. Let stand for about 5 mins until softened.
Heat the milk, vanilla bean and seeds, softened gelatin and salt over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
Remove the vanilla bean and save for another use.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler making sure no water or steam mixes with the chocolate. Pour the hot milk over the chocolate and carefully emulsify with a hand blender (I added the milk in three batches and just mixed it really well with a spatula and then strained the mixture). Add the cream and stir just to  incorporate. 
Let cool to room temperature and pour into 4 small serving glasses and refrigerate for atleast 4 hours.